Start Young – Bridging the Data Literacy Gap

By Piyush Agarwal, SE Leader, Cloudera India

In July 2015, the government launched the Digital India campaign to connect the most remote areas of the country with internet access and promote digital literacy. Seven years later, Indian internet users have nearly doubled from 350 million to 658 million. This increase has led to an increase in the amount of data being generated, which is waiting to be harnessed for the public good. It becomes easy to see how a more data-savvy population can leverage this data to positively impact India’s economic and human development.

Data literacy remains an issue in India
While the Indian population may be proficient in machine learning and math, data skills and literacy remain a weak link. According to a 2021 study by Coursera, Indians only master 25% of data analysis. As the demand for data scientists outstrips the global supply, these low levels of data literacy skills may mean that India could face a future shortage of data science professionals.

With India’s GDP expected to grow to 8.4% in 2022-23, the country will benefit from the development of smart cities across the country. These smart cities will fuel a more competitive economy, improve quality of life and solve other urban and socio-economic challenges currently facing Indian citizens. Data literacy skills will be key to achieving this national goal. For example, it enables smart cities to harness the power of technology to develop rural areas, provide new job opportunities, prevent greenhouse gas emissions and even reduce the cost of living.

In a post-pandemic India, technology has been central to the transformation of Indian businesses. Employees had to upskill and retrain to adapt to the new way of doing business. Skills that will be in demand in the future include comprehensive coding, data science proficiency, and knowledge of machine learning.

Make data more accessible
Given the changing business landscape, the ability to understand and apply data is extremely crucial. The pandemic has proven that the most resilient companies are those that are nimble and can quickly pivot to adapt to changing market conditions. In most cases, these companies rely on data-driven insights to make informed decisions.
Employees will better understand the importance of data in their daily work if they have easy access to it. Once they have undergone training and become more proficient with data, they will begin to feel more comfortable using it in more areas and reap the benefits, such as improved operational efficiency, strengthening technical resilience or reducing costs.

Building a future generation that is data savvy
A data revolution is already underway and it is important that our education system adapts to equip the workforce of tomorrow with skills that are in high demand. It is crucial to teach children about the importance of data at an early stage, as it has become part of everyday life and can help them understand the importance of data and its impact on them. For example, data-savvy children will also be more aware of the type of data they need to share, which will promote healthy internet habits. Children can be introduced to data early on through various avenues such as books, videos, and games that discuss concepts such as data collection and visualization. Making data fun starts at home

With mobile games and coding lessons for kids becoming more prevalent in India, it is much easier to familiarize children with data. Building a solid foundation with tools like counting games helps create greater familiarity and receptivity to data concepts in their later years. Online courses that teach coding not only help children learn a new skill, but also build their confidence and improve their writing, communication, and math skills.

At home, parents can start by simplifying the concept of data and introducing it to their children through books. Children’s books cover a wide range of topics and often come with detailed illustrations to explain concepts in a way that’s more relevant to a child. By making reading more fun and engaging, parents can encourage the habit in their children from an early age while enriching their knowledge about data.

At Cloudera, we believe in learning and advancing the concepts of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology in an educational and entertaining way. Last year, we partnered with a team of educators, ReadyAI, to write our first book aimed at 8-10 year olds. Titled A Fresh Squeeze of Data, the book follows protagonist Clara’s journey of setting up her lemonade stand and how data helps her solve problems and make better decisions. Using a story about selling lemonade, the concept of data is explained in a way children can understand and helps show simple ways to solve problems with data. In a world where even a 14-year-old can become an expert in artificial intelligence, children should be given more opportunities to master data so that they can thrive intellectually, emotionally and morally alongside these new technologies. . By promoting data literacy among our future technology innovators and disruptors, we are building a strong data-driven workforce for the evolving business landscape.


About Shirley L. Kreger

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